May 21, 2011 Saturday AM (part 2), Venture Fourth

May 21, 2011 Saturday AM (part 2), Venture Fourth

Aaron's Dharma Talk on Akashic Field

Barbara: At Emerald Isle, we didn't just talk about the Akashic Field conceptually but practiced with it. We don't have time to do that; Aaron will speak conceptually.

Aaron: My blessings and love to you all. I am Aaron. A little more than 2 years ago, Barbara sent out an invitation and over 50 of you responded; you 18 are the ones who came together for this program. There were many wonderful applicants. We did not base the choice on the depth of your vipassana practice only, but on your deep commitment to service in whatever form, and on your maturity. That is, your readiness not to have too much that got in the way of your intentions.  You are a wonderful group and it's been such a delight working with you these 2 years.

To begin today, I want to talk first a bit about the multitude of tools that you've picked up in these 2 years. Of course, deepening vipassana and pure awareness practices; experiencing support of a sangha; connecting to your guidance. When there's doubt or confusion, how to journey with that doubt and confusion, to move into connection with spirit, working with your power animals, your guides, and so forth. You have learned to work to stabilize the entire energy field, and especially support practices  to work with thoughts and strong emotions. Ways to bring balance, working with the chakras, working with crystals, working with the elements.

There's been a deep maturation in all of these areas for all of you. Some of you have grown more in one area, some more in another area, as would be expected. Everybody will not go in every direction equally, and that's fine.

Now we come to something that I was saving for last, and I hope we have enough time to at least cover the groundwork for it. Working with it on retreat is perhaps the ideal way, as we did at Emerald Isle. Since we won't have Venture Fourth next spring, I hope some of you will be interested in coming to Emerald Isle to pursue it further there.

We have talked about the elements of earth, air, fire, and water. You sat outside with clay and felt the earth element in the body. You swam in the lake and felt the water element, and so forth. We talked about the element of akasha, but we did not deeply define it.

Akasha and akashic field are not completely synonymous. The contents of the akashic field are akasha, or ether. Ether and akasha are not completely synonymous. We talked some about this last summer. We talk about “the field,” I think you all read the Emerald Isle transcripts. Barbara reads a poem from Hongzhi, The Bright Boundless Field. That's the field. It's not just the field of awareness, it's the container for everything, but it's the sub-container. The Unconditioned is the larger container for everything and the akashic field is a subcontainer. There is a relationship somewhat similar, but not identical to, Dharmakaya and sambhogakaya. .

We use an image of a pure spring. The water is 100% pure. If that spring bubbles up from underground, at the point where it has contact with the air, elements of dust and other kinds of external objects will fall into the spring. The pure spring is still there, but we cannot say that the water is still the immediate expression of the pure spring, but has had the opportunity to become distorted. I use distorted here as I usually do, not as a negative, but a statement of a bend in the original. If the spring flows over a little stream and down the hillside and just 100 yards down there's a little pool where cattle are drinking, walking around in it, certainly you're not going to drink that water, but of course it's still the pure spring water. It's a further expression of the pure spring water.

Everything is expressing out of the Unconditioned. We cannot go directly into the Unconditioned and access it and bring it out into the relative world any more than you can scoop into the pure spring, bring a scoopful of water up, and not have it contact the world of possible distortion, of outer influence.

Don't despair! This is where the akashic field comes in. So we have the outer container of the Unconditioned that has many different expressions, and a primary expression of the Unconditioned is the akashic field. It's the container out of which everything else expresses including the elements. Everything expresses from the akashic field.

The image of an underwater submarine is helpful. The diver wants to get into the sea. You can't just open a door and go out; you have to go into a vestibule. In that vestibule, the air is released and the vestibule is flooded with water, and then you go out. In the same way, in the akashic field there's nothing there but the Unconditioned, and yet it becomes the vestibule into which conditioned can be seen and in which the conditions can express out.

One can have a direct experience of the Unconditioned in meditation. The citta that are capable of perceiving the Unconditioned are open. There may be some memories of that experience, and one is able to take those memories back into relative reality. In a sense, what you are doing is both experiencing the Unconditioned and also the akashic field, so that you are in the Unconditioned with the supramundane Lokuttara citta, and the kuttara, mundane citta are also present within the akashic field.

Every citta takes an object. Mundane citta take a mundane object; supramundane citta take a supramundane object. You cannot take the mundane citta into the Unconditioned, therefore you cannot bring direct information from the Unconditioned out into the relative reality, any more than you can scoop that absolutely pure water of the underground spring without picking up some of the dust and distortions of the relative world. We work through the akashic field.

You will remember our discussions of the three kayas. The akashic field is a kind of sambhogakaya,  a bridge bwteen Unconditioned and conditioned.

We start to know the experience of the akashic field. That's the first step, to know it as a direct experience. Then we begin to see how we can extract information, as knowledge, wisdom, whatever. More important, we begin to see directly how objects form out of this akashic field. I call it a primordial ooze; everything is there, so many kinds of different conditions are possible.

Depending on your habitual energy, if somebody pushes you, there may be a subtle contraction. With mindfulness you begin to see that contraction. You begin to know that you can choose not to contract, but this is still much more on the outer level, the personality level. There is still a somebody who is not contracting, a doer and doing.

When you sink down into the akashic field, you can directly experience the push, the habitual energy that contracts, and also the reality, not the concept but the reality, of non-contraction. So instead of simply conceptually knowing with being pushed, “No, I will not contract, I release contraction,” you sink down into the akashic field and literally find the uncontracted, and compassion and wisdom together choose to bring this forth and to allow it to express up out of the akashic field and into relative reality. Can you see the difference between simply bringing mindfulness to “contracting, contracting, No, I'm not going to contract,” and sinking down into this nondual space where you literally know the uncontracted, and you can experience it?

All of the elements express out of the akashic field. When there is imbalance in the elements, the way we worked with it was with mindfulness on that relative reality level, watching for imbalance of the elements. Seeing what was lacking or in excess. Releasing. Drawing in. This is the mundane practice.

Now we come to the place where everything is always balanced. We come to know that innate balance so that there's a glimpse of the distortion in the elements. For example, anger coming up and imbalance in the fire element, not enough water in the fire element. Maybe too much wind in the fire element, not enough earth. With our mundane practice, one doesn't consciously go through it so much as sees all the possibilities: if this is released, or added,  it brings me further away the experience of anger.

With the akashic field practice, resting in awareness, mind/body/spirit touch into the experience of contraction. They also touch this which is balanced. I can't say who chooses; love chooses, really. There's a, I would not call it conscious choosing but a choice based on your deepest intentions. If your deepest intention is to perpetuate the habitual tendency or to protect yourself, then the choice is going to be to perpetuate fire element, enhance anger. Love and Awareness see the thousands of possibilities of the elements and just allow, invite, what is most suitable to come forth.

There is an experience similar to snorkeling underwater with many fronds of thick seaweed, and some beautiful coral. The intention is to see the coral. The seaweed does not distract attention. Nor do you tear the weeds out to see the coral, as such action would damage both seaweed and coral. You just gently sweep aside the seaweed fronds, which are not needed, and go to the coral. It is an effortless and easy movement. The coral is always there. The seaweed will go when the conditions for it cease. In this way, within the akashic field  mind sees and chooses the wholesome.

Q: We have been learning how when we come into a space of contraction, of dropping into the body, how does this action relate to dropping into the Unconditioned?

Aaron: You're saying, when you experience a reaction, to drop into the body? That's more on the mindfulness and mundane level, dropping into the body,  knowing what's happening in the body, and feeling the tension in the body. Then, knowing the tension, knowing the subtle distortions, and knowing that to perpetuate those distortions is not skillful, you drop further into the akashic field, into the heart. The heart/mind is what accesses the akashic field. You drop further into the heart/mind and see the multitude of possibilities. You go into an ice cream shop and there are 46 flavors. Wow! Look at all the choices! What knows what you want? What chooses?

Q: Greed!

Aaron: I would not say greed chooses. If greed chooses, it would ask for a scoop of each one. What chooses? At some level, there's a deep intuitive knowing, I would only wish for  one flavor, maybe two. I've got to go into the heart and know, what really calls to me? This is a very simplistic example.

In any situation, does the mental faculty trying to figure out, conceptually choose or does the heart choose? This is where heart and mind are somewhat different. In the heart that I'm speaking about, mind is part of it but it's not just the mind, it's the mind engaged within the heart, so that what chooses is the deepest intuitive wisdom and knowing, and the trust of that knowing.

When you drop into the akashic field, you're into this realm of infinite possibilities, but because of the depth of practice you can see them as they express out and what the results would be. But it's not a logical process, it's a process wherein your deepest intention and your choice become fully aligned, and the lesser intentions such as self-protection are not so strong. One sees how wanting to protect the self, armoring the self, comes up, and moves through that possibility like swimming through the sea weed. What is the deeper intention? It's not a conscious thought, “What is the deeper intention?” it's simply sinking into that intention.

Q: I don't know if I've incorrectly cobbled this arrangement together, but I've located the pure spirit body in the dharmakaya, and now we say the dharmakaya is the container, and so is the akashic field. When I attempt to realign or bring into balance distortions, I go to the dharmakaya, and it was almost immediate. Is that what makes the choice?

Aaron: I'm not completely clear on your question. The pure spirit body is not the dharmakaya, the pure spirit body is one expression of the dharmakaya. I think that's the area of confusion.

Everything's expressing out of the dharmakaya. Both wholesome and unwholesome express out of the dharmakaya. The pure spirit body is a very clear expression of the dharmakaya.

Q: But it's an expression of me, the pure me, my pure spirit.

Aaron: This is a bit subtle. The dharmakaya is the deepest truth body, yet I would not even say that the dharmakaya is the Unconditioned, not that they're completely synonymous. The dharmakaya is the first expression of the Unconditioned. Then from that first expression we find these further expressions, of pure spirit body, for example. But at that point you're still thinking of “my” pure spirit body, so there's that subtle distortion of separation.

Q: Even if it's pure?

Aaron: Even if it's pure, as long as there's a “my” in it, there's a mental distortion. When we get beyond the “my” to pure spirit body, there's no separation and we're back in the dharmakaya. Then the pure spirit body and the dharmakaya are synonymous, but it's no longer “my” pure spirit body.

Q: I, (name), am the present expression of my higher self sent down to learn... something. Is the higher self the pure spirit body?

Aaron: Close enough! (laughter) But as long as you say “I, (name),” there's some self-identification with it. Then there's a subtle distortion. The distortions are subtle, but unless one is an arahant, there is still that subtle distortion.

Q: I'm wanting to know how this works, practically.

Aaron: I want to do a demonstration with you here...

Q: So if I'm finding myself in a contracted state and I work with this using my mind to come into a place of love, that's different from if I find myself in a contracted space and I sink into the akashic field and then love naturally emerges from me. Is that how that works?

Aaron: Not quite. Close. Let me give an example here from Barbara's experience. She's been working for many months with the arthritis in the shoulders and the tendonitis down the arms. She was guided to see the tension in the connective tissue, so she began to work with watching tension, watching any emotion that arose that grasped or pushed. Working more on the relative plane, but with strong mindfulness and kindness, not to fix it, just to pay attention to it, and each time any kind of tension came up, to release it. A thousand different little bits of tension a day.

This is helpful. It's Step 1. It offers support for healing but does not fully release the tendonitis. It does not fully release the contraction in the connective tissue. The connective tissue, remember, is a series of individual cells, each one with its own intelligence, if I could phrase it that way.

Now she is going to a much deeper place. When she feels that subtle contraction, maybe just cooking dinner and seeing that this is ready and that's not yet ready, a little bit of tension, breathing in, releasing contraction consciously, and then perhaps she has to turn both pots off and go and sit for a few minutes. Going down into the akashic field, at some level seeing the habitual tendency in the cells that has its own intelligence, to find within the akashic field the various possibilities, and in a sense to home in on the conditions that will give rise to the result of releasing the habitual energy of contraction in the tissue. It is all simultaneous; which one is brought forth? It is like the intention that keeps looking toward the coral, undistracted by the simultaneously present seaweed.

She's finding that as she works in this way, she can literally feel the connective tissue unwinding itself, releasing itself. So it's much the same process but one step further, going deeper. It is what I would call an ultimate reality practice rather than a relative reality one, a practice that works with the simultaneity of occurrence rather than experiencing it in a linear way.

Q: But how do you do that? How do you go deeper into the akashic field?

Aaron: This is where I cannot talk about it but we need to practice, and we'll have to decide whether you want to spend your time later this afternoon doing some practice, remembering that at Emerald Isle we had days of practice, not just a few hours, but we can start. Or whether you just want to talk about it now.

Q: How do you bring the possibility that you found deep within the akashic field into manifestation?

Aaron: You don't bring it in or you can't do it. Pure intention brings it in. The depth of intention for non-harm, for lovingkindness, this is what brings it forth.

People are very, very thirsty. You come to a place where there are 3 different streams. Everybody sits down. You walk upstream in each one trying to discern the origins of the streams. In one you find that cattle are wading in a pond just upstream. Another, you find the farmer is fertilizing his field. And here's a third one pouring out from an underground stream. Okay, that's the one we drink from. It's very clear.

You begin to see it that clearly within the akashic field. I shouldn't say you begin; discernment begins. Loving, intelligent discernment begins to see it that clearly, and you also begin to see the various options and the possible results of the various choices. It all appears within the field..

Later I'm going to have you do an exercise breaking into pairs, each pair with 2 cups and some water. One person at a time. The first person moving into the experience of pure awareness as much as is possible; it doesn't have to be perfect. Opening into the akashic field, and then, at a certain point of readiness, holding your cup out asking for water, and the other person pours water from their cup. You drink it.

We watch the different steps. With kindness, there's the ability to hold the cup out, but there may also be some voice that says, “No, I shouldn't take the water. I'm not worthy of the water.” We need to see the different currents that are running through, pouring out of the akashic field. I'm using this as a very simplistic example, but when you choose for the highest good, there's always going to be some little voices that say, “Maybe not this one,” a voice of doubt or, “I'm not deserving,” another voice of doubt, or “Is it really for the highest good?” So discernment begins to see these little ripples and to find the pure spring; to know how to choose and bring that forth. Wading through all the possibilities, choosing this one.

I think if we do this exercise, most of you will be able to experience what asks for water, what drinks the water, versus the other forces of, “Maybe I'm asking too soon, maybe I shouldn't drink the water, maybe there's not enough, maybe I'm not deserving.” Just to see these little currents, little ripples, and push them aside gently, and go into the pure spring.

What is it that you want to enact in this moment? Again, I'm phrasing it poorly. What is it that awakened heart chooses to enact in this moment? What is the deepest, most loving intention? As I go into this field, I see all of the confusing conditions and awareness is more and more able to center in on what is most appropriate and draw it forth.

So in a situation where there's a lot of anger and confusion but still a loving heart that has the intention to act in loving service, one can do the more mundane practices of mindfulness and working with the emotions and so forth. One can work with the Seven Branch Prayer and such to see the habitual patterning of, “Oh, I'm not sure; I'm not good enough.” But one can also sink into the supramundane practice, simply letting go into that which knows and allowing it to come forth. When you do this enough, it has the effect of purifying many of the old habitual distortions. In Barbara's body, it begins a different and more wholesome pattern in the cells. Does this make sense to you, at least on a conceptual level?

Q: All the time I was reading the material you gave us on the akashic fields, I was thinking to myself, “If I were a Christian and I were reading this material, would I think the akashic field was God?”

Aaron: You might. In my perception, the Unconditioned is no different than what we call God and the akashic field is the first act of creation.

Q: A few questions. Can you explain the relationship between sambhogakaya and the akashic field?

Aaron: Very similar. Good point. Thank you. Remembering that sambhogakaya bridges from dharmakaya to nirmanakaya, the whole thing is sambhogakaya, but at the end it's rooted in dharmakaya. The bridge is cleaner at the Dharmakaya end, so to speak. As it inches over and moves into nirmanakaya, it's much more filled with clutter. The akashic field is at the end of sambhogakaya just as it's expressing out of the dharmakaya.

Q: So it is the very pure part of the bridge?

Aaron: Yes. The akashic field is the whole bridge, but what you're accessing, you're filtering out all these strands, everything is expressing out of the dharmakaya, everything. You're filtering out what is not useful. Not you but the heart/mind, with the highest intention to the highest good, and with love, centers on what's needed.

Some of you have fed a baby and know the process whereby you put out a choice of wholesome foods and then let the baby choose-- a pea, a cheerio, or whatever. You don't try to push food down the baby's throat. You know the baby has the ability to know what it needs, in part, what it likes, but also you find babies fed in this way generally choose a very wholesome diet. They don't just go after the sweet-tasting things. In a sense the baby is intuitively accessing the akashic field and knows its needs and chooses its food. Only after it becomes conditioned to, “Oh, this is good, that's bad,” this one is only for dessert, this one is only a treat, does the conditioning start to go into, “Oh, I want that one.”

Q: Can you repeat the statement about where we access the akashic field? You said we access it at the point of the bridge that's rooted in the dharmakaya, right?

Aaron: With dharmakaya and nirmanakaya, we have the bridge of sambhogakaya. We've pictured it with deep pillars down into the dharmakaya and nirmanakaya, not just resting on the top but deep pillars. So it's rooted in both. It combines both. The dharmakaya is constantly expressing as the nirmanakaya. The nirmanakaya is just the outer expressions, wholesome and unwholesome, of the dharmakaya based on choice, free will, and so forth; we create the nirmanakaya.

The sambhogakaya, it's called the wealth body. Everything is in it. This is, in a sense, the akashic field. When you access the akashic field you may see all of it and be overwhelmed. But when you come back into just the highest intention, that which is for the highest good, wholesome, without harm, with love, and when you keep centering in, you come back to the dharmakaya end of the sambhogakaya bridge. Everything is out there; what are you going to focus on?

We did a guided meditation in a class one night where I asked people to pretend they were from another planet and new on Earth. Suddenly you're materialized on Earth. You're in a city. You don't know anything about the city, the people, the buildings.

You see a sign that says “Bar,” and people are in there, you hear loud voices and rowdiness, you smell the liquor fumes. You see a sign that says “Gym” and you can see people inside doing exercise. You see a sign that says “Church” and people are praying. You see a sign that says “Meditation Hall” and you see people in meditation. You see a park and people are relaxing on the grass, throwing a ball. Your habitual energy will lead you to where you choose to go. You don't read the signs, you don't know the language, but you can pick up the cues. Where do my habitual tendencies draw me? “Well, gee, I'm in a strange place and I don't know anybody; I guess I'll go into the bar and get a drink.” That's one habitual tendency. “I'm just going to go into the church and pray for help because I feel lost.” That's another habitual tendency. “Here are good food smells, I guess I'll go in there and get some food.” “I'm just going to go to the park and stretch out on the grass.” “I'm going to go in and join those meditators.” One choice is not necessarily better than another, it's simply the outflow of your conditioning.

The more you repeat that conditioning, the more solid it becomes. Now we come to the point where we see that we're always going into the bar or the restaurant or the gym to try to run away from discomfort. It's not really that running on a treadmill is bad, it's just, this is the habit energy. We go into the akashic field where we see all the possibilities and all the different conditions, the eons of conditioning that have led me to the bar or to the church, or to whatever, and ask, “In this moment, what is most wholesome?” In this moment, not to be guided by old conditioning but to literally see these conditions expressing out and let go of them. “No, not that one, not that one, not that one,” just as you go through them in a restaurant. No, I don't really like strawberries. No meat, I'm a vegetarian. No soy, I'd rather not eat soy. No strong spices. But this soup sounds just perfect; this is what calls to me. This is just what my body needs at this point. I'll take the vegetable soup. So we let ourselves be led by inner knowing. Ajahn Chah's “The One who Knows.” .

Now, if you're in the habit of every time you go into a restaurant, ordering a hamburger or a very spicy chili dish, maybe when you first walk into the restaurant you just say, “Chili, hamburger-- Now wait a minute, that's not been good for my body recently.” Going into the realm of possibilities. But this of course goes much deeper because we are both allowing ourselves to bring out the skillful choice into the world, and also purifying some of the old habitual tendencies. In that way it relates to the Seven Branch Prayer but it's a much more direct way into it.

Q: Co-creation?

Aaron: Yes.

Q: Once we are led to the appropriate purified stream, what then?

Aaron: What then? Rest there! Bring it out!

Q: How?

Aaron: If you're holding a hungry, crying child and somebody points you to a wholesome food store with good-smelling soup, fresh bread, and you buy a piece of it, what then? You offer it to the child. You simply accept that pure stream that's flowing through you, you're aligned with it, and you bring it out into the world.

And simultaneously you see all the old habitual obstacles. “Maybe I'm not ready to bring this out into the world. We'll just let that one go.” Maybe the child is not ready for the bread. That's another one. Let it go.

We need to stop... (schedule and possibilities for the remainder of the day)

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